Saturday, 8 October 2011

My speech to the Dialogue of Civilizations conference in Rhodes

This week I am attending the Rhodes Forum, where I have been invited to address the ninth annual session of the Rhodes Forum: "Dialogue of Civilizations". Below is the full text of my address at the roundtable on population and the family. The roundtable was attended by the Rhodes Forum's founding president Vladamir Yakunin, who was appointed president of Russian Railways by the Government of the Russian Federation in June2005.  The roundtable was moderated by Natalya Yakunina, the wife of Mr Yakunin, who is chairman of Russia's Sanctity of Motherhood programme. I said:
Madam chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

21st century families are deeply affected and damaged by powerful political forces promoting population control, both in developing and in developed countries.

Firstly, there is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to promote access to abortion on demand in every country of the world. Let me begin with President Obama. In a speech on October 12th 2009, Wellington Webb, appointed by Barack Obama as special adviser to the US mission to the United Nations, confirmed that the Obama administration will be promoting legalised abortion throughout the world, targeting adolescents in a worldwide abortion drive.

Hillary Clinton, Obama's appointee as US Secretary of State, had already made it clear that when her government speaks of reproductive health, it's a term which includes access to abortion. In April, 2009, Hilary Clinton told Congressman Chris Smith at a hearing of the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee "We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health and reproductive health includes access to abortion ... ”

Secondly, there’s an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy conscientious objection on abortion and on other right to life issues.

Obama’s and Clinton’s pro-abortion allies at the United Nations have been in top gear. In September 2010 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ban Ki Moon the UN Secretary General, and Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, launched a report “on discrimination against women, in law and practice, and how the issue is addressed throughout the United Nations human rights system”. In that report they called for the policing of nations worldwide to “address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions”.

In the meantime, the anti-life lobby intensified its campaign in the European institutions.

A report on conscientious objection in medicine was debated last October in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe consists of elected representatives from the legislatures of the 47 member-states of the Council of Europe. (Please note that the council is entirely separate from the European Union, a body which includes 27 European nations.) The report’s focus was conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia in "medical" care [my quotation marks]. If the report had been passed, Council of Europe member-states, that’s 47 European nations, would have been put under pressure effectively to abolish in law and practice conscientious objection within medicine.

Thankfully, instead of a pro-abortion victory, the tables were turned, and there was an important pro-life victory instead. Prior to the Council of Europe debate the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the UK sent detailed briefings to pro-life supporters and to religious leaders in the 47 nations of the Council of Europe. We urged them to lobby their political representatives to vote against this deadly report opposing conscientious objection. The outcome of the debate was radically opposite to the outcome anticipated by the pro-abortion lobby. The pro-abortion report was entitled: “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection,” By way of contrast, the final resolution on the report was headed “The right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care”. The resolution is not perfect but it represents a huge setback for our opponents. It also presents a major new challenge to the pro-life movement in Europe and, perhaps, worldwide.

Thirdly, there is an unequivocal determination to promote homosexuality and other sexual orientation models worldwide probably with a view to bringing forward a resolution at the international level – either at the Human Rights Council or at the UN general Assembly in New York – recognising same-sex marriage.

In June this year, a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity was presented at the Human Rights Council by South Africa – a resolution organized with the assistance of the United States and the European Union. In a carefully planned strategy, the South African Mission held a meeting on June 9th under the completely misleading heading “The imperative need to respect the established procedures and practices of the United Nations General Assembly in the elaboration on new norms and standards and their subsequent integration into existing international human rights law”.

The result of this meeting was the tabling of a resolution the following day June 10th on "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. The resolution was passed on a vote in the Human Rights Council by 23 votes to 19 with three abstentions. This resolution was targeted at the Human Rights Council because western countries, in favour of expanding human rights to include sexual orientation and gender identity, currently enjoy a majority there.

Last month a similar resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity was agreed by political parties at the European Parliament.

These resolutions on sexual orientation, promoted by some western governments and powerful NGOs, are concentrating on the issue of discrimination and violence. In this way, sexual orientation issues are being placed on the international political agenda.

No one takes issue with the unacceptability of violence committed against persons. However, resolutions against violence will be used as a platform, for future actions. This is just the beginning, as progress has now been made in establishing the issue within the UN framework. This was a first step and it now seems probable to SPUC’s UN lobbyists that there will be a resolution in the coming months – either at the Human Rights Council in Geneva or at the General Assembly in New York – seeking to recognize same sex marriage.

Why is the issue of homosexuality important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

This brings me to my fourth point. There is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy parental rights over their children’s education and formation.

In their work at the Human Rights Council, lobbyists working for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children often meet country delegates from developing nations who are preparing reports for United Nations compliance committees. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the UN’s compliance committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For example, there is nothing in the Convention on the Rights of the Child that can reasonably be construed as approving abortion or access to abortion for children under the age of consent without their parents’ knowledge or agreement. However, this does not stop the Compliance Committee from making recommendations promoting access to abortion for children under the age of consent without parents’ knowledge or consent. For example, a child’s “right to health” is protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the UN Compliance Committee on the Convention a child’s right to health must include access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives, the dangers of early pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, States parties should ensure that they have access to appropriate information, regardless of their marital status ... and regardless of whether their parents or guardians consent.

We can be sure that Pope Benedict’s message on the 1st January this year is anathema to such powerful UN committees. He said: “Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture.” Unfortunately, Pope Benedict’s strong statement is not universally supported by church officials – and the weakness of Church officials in many parts of the world is completely disastrous for unborn children, for parents and for their families.

Tragically, in Britain, induced abortion and birth control drugs and devices are provided to children at school, including Catholic schools, under the age of 16 without parental knowledge or consent. This is happening with the co-operation of the Catholic authorities - my fifth point.

Britain is witnessing the fulfilment of the prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's historic encyclical which celebrated its 40th anniversary two years ago. Speaking about the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse he wrote: 'Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.' When Pope Paul VI wrote these words, he was referring to governments imposing birth control practices on whole societies. His words apply tragically, with terrifying consequences for our families, to Catholic bishops in England and Wales, who co-operate with the British government policy of imposing birth control practices on families like mine.

The failure of Catholic bishops, not only in Britain but in very many parts of the world, to teach their flocks on matters relating to the fundamental right to life was directly responsible for great confusion and, consequently, for the failure of the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and lay, to provide truly effective resistance to the greatest legalized slaughter of human beings in the history of the world. Countless millions of unborn children were being killed each year and the policy of very many Catholic bishops was contributing hugely to this deplorable situation.

Unless the pro-life movement worldwide and all citizens of good will speak up loud and clear and make this deplorable situation absolutely clear to Christian pastors – the decline into the destruction of unborn children, the destruction of parents’ rights and responsibilities and the destruction of the health and moral welfare of young people will be completed with terrifying speed.

I call upon delegates here in Rhodes and citizens of good will worldwide to heed the words of Archbishop Hilarion Afleyev, President of the Moscow Patricarchate's Department for External Church Relations: "The Christin is called to profess his faith boldly, out of love of God and of his truth, and for the salvation of his soul, for eternal life".

Such religious and moral leadership is urgently needed for the family to survive its catastrophic destruction through the efforts and the will of powerful politicians and UN officials and the through the betrayal of families by religious leaders who have either lost their faith in God or their love for humanity.

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Friday, 7 October 2011

Gay marriage will be here to stay if Catholic leaders don't witness to the whole moral truth about homosexuality

Bishop Kieran Conry
On Wednesday David Cameron, the British prime minister, backed gay marriage, telling the annual Conservative party conference:
“I stood before a Conservative conference once and I said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a man and another man or a woman and a woman.

You applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage.

And to anyone who has reservations, I say this: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
As Mr Cameron said, his conference speech of five years ago made the same point about commitment, in that case endorsing civil partnerships as true families.

If, however, 'commitment' trumps the objective nature (e.g. male or female) of the people making the commitment and the reality of their relationship (e.g. homosexual or heterosexual), then why not allow close relatives to marry? Or several people?

Yet the issue is wider than the criteria for marriage. The fundamental reason why gay marriage is wrong is not only that it would be a false version of marriage, stealing the word 'marriage' and the special place of marriage in society (i.e. faithful and permanent heterosexual unions open to begetting children). The fundamental argument against gay marriage is that homosexuality is disordered, as it is radically at variance with the truth and meaning of human sexuality.* And this argument has been cleverly undermined by Catholic spokesmen by endorsing civil partnerships.

On Wednesday The Telegraph reported that Kieran Conry (pictured), Catholic bishop of Arundel and Brighton:
"stressed that the Catholic Church supported civil partnerships, which confer the same rights to gay couples as marriage, because they give better legal protection to individuals in matters including inheritance."
In fact, the Church has condemned civil partnerships. In 2003, the late Pope John Paul II approved a document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), entitled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons", signed by the current Holy Father. It says:
"Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens." (no.9)
In January 2010 Bishop Malcolm McMahon, chairman of the Catholic Education Service (CES),  reportedly told The Tablet that "the Church was not opposed to civil partnerships" and that being in a civil partnership was not a bar to being appointed a headteacher in a Catholic school.

Before and after last year's papal visit to the UK, Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, made repeated references helpful to the homosexual cause, including an endorsement of civil partnerships.

And Dr Austen Ivereigh, coordinator of Catholic Voices, former director of public affairs to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and former deputy editor of The Tablet, has written that "civil partnerships are a fine thing, and should be extended", including to "marriage-phobic men and women" and "people who commit themselves – lovingly, sometimes even sexually".

As long as Catholics tolerate, defend or promote civil partnerships or associated legal protections for homosexuals, the wider world will continue to see bans on gay marriage as pointless discrimination, and any insistence on calling only heterosexual unions 'marriage' as mere semantics. Catholics must proclaim loud and clear that it is impossible for any homosexual relationship to be a marriage because genuine personal, sexual and spiritual union between persons of the same-sex is impossible.

And as long as Catholics, when arguing against gay marriage, fail to argue - or even deny - that homosexuality is disordered, the battle against gay marriage will never be won. As the 2003 CDF document made clear, precisely in the context of the public debate about homosexuality, that:
"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty ... Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth (no.5) ... Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean...the approval of deviant behaviour" (no.11).
* Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality (and sexual ethics generally) important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 7 Oct

Top stories:

UN human rights council puts pressure on Ireland to legalise abortion
Delegates from Britain, Denmark and Spain yesterday used the UN's Universal Periodic Review of Ireland to call for Ireland to legalise abortion. Alan Shatter, Ireland's Minister for Justice, told the hearing that the Irish Supreme Court had decided that it was lawful to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland when it is necessary to preserve the life of the mother, and that the government would address the issue and meet their obligations under the Convention on Human Rights. Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said “Minister Shatter did not refer to the fact that the majority of Irish people oppose abortion, and that the people, rather than the European Court, decide Ireland’s pro-life laws and he failed to point out that Ireland’s leading medical experts had confirmed - before a parliamentary committee - that abortion was never medically necessary.” [LifeSiteNews.com, 6 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/1kEuC


SPUC public meeting in Bournemouth to warn about explicit sex education in primary schools
A public meeting will be held next Thursday (13 October) in Bournemouth to warn parents about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools. Antonia Tully, the coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, a nationwide campaign calling for a ban on explicit sex education, will explain how children as young as seven are exposed in the classroom to cartoons showing sexual intercourse. Parents of primary school age children are encouraged to attend to find out about their rights to protect their children from sexualisation in the classroom. [SPUC, 7 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/xmE24


SPUC urge supporters to respond to government sex ed consultation
The Department for Education is inviting people to participate in a consultation about sex and relationships education (SRE) in England. SPUC is encouraging its supporters to participate and to  express their objections to the kind of SRE that is wide­spread in schools today. Please read SPUC's briefing which includes all you need to know to make a submission. The deadline is 30 November. [SPUC, 5 Octoberhttp://goo.gl/kiogx


Other stories:


Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics
General
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Bournemouth public meeting to warn about explicit sex education in primary schools

A public meeting will be held next Thursday (13 October) in Bournemouth to warn about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools.

Antonia Tully, the coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, a nationwide campaign calling for a ban on explicit sex education, will explain how children as young as seven are exposed in the classroom to cartoons showing sexual intercourse. Parents of primary school age children are encouraged to attend to find out about their rights to protect their children from sexualisation in the classroom.

The meeting is being organised by the Bournemouth branch of the British Constitution Society.

The meeting will be held at the Durley Dean Hotel, Westcliffe Road, Bournemouth BH2 5HE, starting at 7.00pm, Thursday 13 October 2011.

For more information, please contact Antonia Tully on (020) 8407 3643 or safeatschool@spuc.org.uk

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

SPUC's Alison Davis finds the euthanasia hole in World Suicide Prevention Day

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human, a group within SPUC, has written an open letter to the organisers of last week's World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD):
Dear Sirs,
I found out, only on the day itself that the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was held on Saturday 10th September 2011. I feel it is a great pity that information about the Day was not more widely disseminated, since I would have liked to have had the chance to comment on the Day and the literature associated with it, before the event actually happened.
I have read through all the literature associated with the Day, but have been unable to find any mention in it of attempts (if any are made by WHO) to prevent the suicide of disabled/sick/elderly people, who are currently the main targets of campaigns by groups in many countries, including those in Europe, to legalise what is euphemistically called "assisted suicide" or "assisted dying." In plain English, these terms simply mean facilitating the suicide of vulnerable people.
I did notice some comments in your literature which would appear pertinent to the paragraph above. Not least, you give examples of activities which can support WSPD, which include "holding depression awareness events in public places, and offering screening for depression." No such care is taken over prospective victims (so-called "volunteers") of "assisted suicide" though it seems very likely that many if not most of them will be suffering depression to some degree.
I would like to give you a personal example of such a case, and solicit your opinion on it.
I am now 56 years old and live in the UK. I am a full time wheelchair user, and need a ventilator at night, and at some times during the day. I have spina bifida, hydrocephalus, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and kyphoscoliosis-lordosis, as well as other complications for which surgery is indicated, but is not possible for me because of the risk of my undergoing anaesthesia. I have experienced severe pain for over 30 years, and this pain is worsening due, in part, to fractured bones, including vertebrae. The pain is helped, but by no means controlled, by use of morphine and Fentanyl patches.

Some years ago I decided the future held nothing for me but more pain, which I felt would be unbearable. I attempted suicide several times. At that time my doctors thought my life expectancy was very short. On the day I remember best I took a large overdose of painkillers, drank a whole bottle of Martini, slashed both wrists with a penknife, and settled down in bed to die. Fortunately (though I thought most unfortunately at the time) a friend arrived shortly afterwards, let herself in, found I was losing consciusness, and had me taken to the hospital, where I was treated against my will. Had euthanasia/assisted suicide been legal then, I am sure I would have requested it. Under the rules that apply in countries/states where such "suicides" are legal, or even in the UK, now that "Advance Directives" (Living Wills) are legally binding, the doctors' hands would have been tied. I would have qualified to be "assisted" to end my own life, and I can see no reason why such a request would have been refused.

Had this been done, no one would ever have known that my doctors were entirely wrong in predicting a short life expectancy for me. And equally, no one would have known that, despite increasing pain and debility, I would be missing the best years of my life. May I ask what, if anything, you are doing to prevent the sort of "suicide" I would have requested, had it been legal? Would you campaign against political proposals in the UK or any other country within your jurisdiction to legalise "assisted" suicide for people like me, or those who are elderly, in pain, and simply "tired of life"?
I note two further comments in your WSPD brochure which have relevance here. You say that we must "educate the media on how to report suicide responsibly." This is most definitely not being done at present in the UK. Indeed, we are constantly bombarded by TV programmes and media reports on how "merciful" such killings are, and how the perpetrators are heroes rather than killers, and thus ought to be praised, not prosecuted. Will you be doing anything to alter this state of affairs? Finally you say that "suicide prevention is everybody's business." May I ask what you are doing to prevent the suicide of sick and disabled people like me, which is being heavily promoted not only in the UK but also in many European countries, in some of which it is already legal?
In failing to address assisted suicide the organisers of the World Suicide Prevention Day have ignored the major threat to all vulnerable people who are contemplating suicide. Alison showed how vulnerable people can easily be influenced by the determined agenda of the euthanasia lobby when she pointed out in her recent analysis of the Tony Nicklinson case that the statement which was supposed to represent the personal wishes of Mr Nicklinson was in fact largely lifted from Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society). When we see in some sections of society a push for the legalisation of assisted suicide on such grounds as tiredness and loneliness, how can a group working to prevent suicide ignore such an insidious threat to the lives of vulnerable people?

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bishop O'Donoghue preaches powerfully against the UK's culture of death

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue (right)
This past weekend there was a pro-life pilgrimage in Walsingham led by Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue. I have written before on several occasions about Bishop O'Donoghue's fearless pro-life leadership. Long may it continue.

Somebody has kindly sent to me the text of Bishop O'Donoghue's sermon at the pilgrimage. I include below some particularly impressive quotes. You can read the full sermon online, thanks to Robert Colquhoun.
For 41 years we've lived in a state-sponsored culture of death that has killed 5 million children, and we're now surprised that some of the surviving children have turned out violent with no regard for the sanctity of life? 
How many children know that their mothers have had an abortion? What effect will it have on them knowing that they have been deprived of a brother or sister through abortion? 
... 
This is why we have come on pilgrimage to Walsingham, to make reparation for the desecration of so many homes throughout Our Lady's Dowry, homes that should have been reflections of the Holy House of Nazareth but have been broken by abortion, contraception and the culture of death. 
We also come to ask Our Lady to intercede for us that God continues to bless our homes with the life-giving grace of Nazareth, and to heal the broken homes throughout the UK that cause so much heart-ache and deprivation.
... 
Through taking on a human nature, a human body in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the eternally begotten Son of God, has united Himself with every woman, man, and child on this planet. By sharing in the same human nature as Jesus every human being born is somehow joined to the divine-human life of the Son of God who took flesh in the immaculate flesh of Mary, the Mother of God. 
This means that each human person conceived shares in a triple dignity: 
• Made in the Image of God
• The centre and crown of all creation
• Joined to Jesus Christ, the eternal begotten Son of God, through his incarnation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
This is why all people that sincerely care about nature, and that seek to protect the environment from being destroyed should care about the destruction of the pre-born child by abortion. Every time a child is killed through abortion a person who is created by God as the centre and crown of all creation is destroyed. This is why abortion is the greatest crime against the natural world, against the environment.
This is why all Christians that sincerely care about human dignity and human rights should care about euthanasia and assisted suicide. Every time a vulnerable person's heart is stopped by drugs or the withdrawal of fluids or food, a person who is united with the humanity of the Son of God is unjustly and sinfully tortured and killed. This is why euthanasia and assisted suicide is the greatest crime against humanity. 
This is why all Catholics, and all people of good will, who defend human life through their support of the pro-life movement are the most radical environmentalists and most radical advocates of human rights. The most endangered ecosystem on the planet is the mother's womb and the most endangered human right is the right to life of our most vulnerable citizens. Protecting the ecology of man from destruction by abortion and euthanasia should be the foremost concern of every human institution and government, in fact of every ecological group such as Green Peace and Friends of the Earth and every Human Rights group such as Amnesty International. 
But tragically for the future of life on this planet, the ecological movement and human rights movement are often the loudest advocates of so called 'reproductive rights', which as we know is just a cynical euphemism for killing unborn children. 
The world needs reminding that Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to life of every person. All are entitled to the rights of Freedom set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind. 
It is deplorable that so many states choose to allow the unborn child to be a victim and targeted for killing - a barbaric & evil practice. We must stand firm in our call for respect for human life from natural conception to natural death. 
... 
There is no one more lowly in our society than the unborn child and the vulnerable sick and elderly. 
There is no one more powerful in our society than the politician, medical professional, or journalist who is pro-abortion, and pro-euthanasia. They are the Princes of the Culture of Death that has been established in our country. 
... 
The abortion industry in this country makes £60 million a year from the Department of Health for killing 200,000 unborn children 
Embryonic children have been killed and harvested to produce lines of stem cells for the pharmaceutical industry to make vast profits. 
Thousands of teenage mothers are pressurised into having abortions by the State to ensure that they don't claim social housing and benefits. Money is seen as being more important than a child's life. 
A Christian, fully human society is one that puts the needs of the most vulnerable first, that values human life more than the balance sheet.
It is very encouraging to hear of a bishop in this country powerfully repeating the great message spoken to the world by Mother Teresa, when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, that "the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion." With strong leadership from men like Bishop O'Donoghue there is still hope of ending this terrible destroyer of peace.

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Please respond to government sex ed consultation

The Department for Educa­tion is inviting people to participate in a consultation about sex and relationships educa­tion (SRE) in England – and I hope you will do so. (Those living outside England can also participate, but the consultation relates specifically to the National Curriculum for England.)

The government have said that they are not going to make classroom SRE compul­sory within the scope of this consultation. However, they do regard classroom SRE as a benefit. Therefore we need to express our objections to the kind of SRE that is wide­spread in schools today, and refer to evidence that it doesn’t have the beneficial impact that politicians often claim. Please read SPUC's briefing which includes all you need to know to make a submission. The deadline is 30 November. Please do act on this.

Please also read our latest campaign bulletin on sex education with other action points.

You may recently have signed or col­lected signatures for SPUC's national petition against explicit sex education lessons. I’m very grateful to all who have done this. Please do return any outstanding forms to SPUC HQ by 16 October, so we can present them to the Secretary of State.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Wed 5 Oct

Charlie Marie-Skinner & mum Heather
Top stories:

Baby doctors said should be aborted takes first steps
A British baby girl whom doctors had advised be aborted has taken her first steps. Charlie Marie-Skinner was diagnosed in the womb with a large tumour on her heart. Doctors advised her mother to have an abortion but the advice was firmly refused. [Telegraph, 4 October] http://goo.gl/tPGJ3

Pro-life fundraising ball to be held in London, 19 November
The annual Good Counsel Network ball will be held in London on 19 November. The network helps women in crisis pregnancies. The ball is a major fundraiser for the network. [Maria Stops Abortion, 28 September] http://goo.gl/ASmtK

Argentinian lawmakers sign pledge in defense of life and family
Legislators from across Argentina have signed a pledge against abortion and euthanasia and in defence of the family. The signing ceremony was attended by senior Catholic Church officials. Archbishop Alfredo Horacio Zecca said that abortion entails the "radical exclusion of others". [CNA, 28 September] http://goo.gl/Wz32A

Other stories:

Abortion
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Utilitarians have a distorted view of humanity

Jeremy Bentham
I read recently an article in The Economist (September 24, 2011) entitled "Goodness has nothing to do with it". It was sub-titled “Utilitarians are not nice people”.

The Economist reminded readers that the goal of utilitarianism is encapsulated in the saying of Jeremy Bentham, the English philosopher, that “the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation”.

The article explores the question: What kind of people agree with utilitarian acts which involve killing one individual in order to save five individuals? ... and it cites the research of Daniel Bartels at Columbia University and David Pizarro at Cornell.

The Economist states:
“One of the classic techniques used to measure a person’s willingness to behave in a utilitarian way is known as trolleyology. The subject of the study is challenged with thought experiments involving a runaway railway trolley or train carriage. All involve choices, each of which leads to people’s deaths. For example: there are five railway workmen in the path of a runaway carriage. The men will surely be killed unless the subject of the experiment, a bystander in the story, does something. The subject is told he is on a bridge over the tracks. Next to him is a big, heavy stranger. The subject is informed that his own body would be too light to stop the train, but that if he pushes the stranger onto the tracks, the stranger’s large body will stop the train and save the five lives. That, unfortunately, would kill the stranger.

“Dr Bartels and Dr Pizarro knew from previous research that around 90% of people refuse the utilitarian act of killing one individual to save five. What no one had previously inquired about, though, was the nature of the remaining 10%.”
Bartels and Pizarro, according to The Economist, found a strong link between "utilitarian answers to moral dilemmas (push the fat guy off the bridge) and personalities that were psychopathic, Machieavellian or tended to view life as meaningless.”

OK, one might think, The Economist will probably now go on to reach adverse conclusions about utilitarianism as a proper theoretical basis for legislation. Not a bit of it. The final paragraph reads:
“That does not make utilitarianism wrong. Crafting legislation—one of the main things that Bentham and Mill wanted to improve—inevitably involves riding roughshod over someone’s interests. Utilitarianism provides a plausible framework for deciding who should get trampled. The results obtained by Dr Bartels and Dr Pizarro do, though, raise questions about the type of people who you want making the laws. Psychopathic, Machiavellian misanthropes? Apparently, yes.”
It’s horrifying, isn’t it, that utilitarianism can be lauded like this in a leading international news journal - and in spite of such (predictable) results from an experiment to test the personality of those making utilitarian decisions?

I cannot, however, fault the article in terms of its analysis of our current political and legislative situation. In September 2008 I noted Dame Mary Warnock’s view that people with disabling conditions have a duty to die prematurely. In an interview with the Church of Scotland's Life and Work magazine, Lady Warnock said:
"If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives – your family's lives – and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service.
"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself."
Now I'm not saying that Lady Warnock is psychopathic, but what sort of person says that a person with dementia is wasting their family's lives? On what grounds does she make this claim? Lady Warnock said that people with dementia are wasting National Health Service (NHS) resources.  But if the NHS isn't there to care for the sick, such as people with dementia, then what is it for? To assist us to die before we inconvenience our families?

Remember that Lady Warnock has shaped legislation that we live with today in Britain. Earlier this month I reported on the excellent conference at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre where Dr David Albert Jones, the centre's director, gave a fascinating insight into why Britain has one of the least restrictive policies on human embryo research in the world:
"Not only does UK law permit every conceivable category of embryo to be created for research, but it also shows little evidence of willingness to restrict human embryo research in practice. By 2008, 2 million embryos had been destroyed in clincal practice or research in the UK. In the same period the regulator (the HFEA) had only once refused a research license, and this was later granted on appeal."
Commenting on Lady Warnock's report*, on the basis of which the British Parliament voted in 1990 to legalise destructive research on human embryos for a wide range of purposes, Dr Jones said:
"Warnock's approach is highly problematic. It is disingenuous to call this an account of the status of the embryo. The embryo drops out of consideration and it is the moral feelings of objectors that are considered. But it fails also as an attempt to respect these feelings, for it does not critically engage with the arguments but treats concern about harm to the embryo as a mere expression of emotion, in contrast to the concern about benefit to patients which is treated as an objective concern."
I strongly recommend everyone to read the summary of Dr Jones's address or to read it in full when the proceedings of the day conference are published. (Two years ago, I wrote on one aspect of the theme Dr Jones explored with such expertise in a post entitled Reasonable-minded citizens should be genuinely frightened of Mary Warnock.)

In hindsight I would like to adjust my advice to reasonable-minded citizens with regard to Mary Warnock. We need not be frightened of her, terrifying as her views and influence may be. Neither do we need to judge whether or not her open utilitarianism suggests psychopathic tendencies. But we do need to be aware of exactly what Lady Warnock and others like her think and we need to be prepared to stand up and refute their distorted view of humanity with the truth that all life is worth living.

*The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, Cmnd. 9314, London, 1984

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Monday, 3 October 2011

May Fr Michael Williams, a SPUC supporter, rest in peace

I was saddened to hear last week of the death of Fr Michael Williams, a young pro-life priest from Liverpool. Alan Houghton, a supporter of SPUC in Liverpool, has written a tribute to Fr Mike and has kindly given me permission to publish it on this blog:
Fr. Mike was an outstanding priest and a remarkable friend. Mike and I met back in 1996, before either of us even went to seminary. After Angie [Alan's wife] he was my closest friend and it is distressing to lose him. Nevertheless, we were able to be with him and his family at the moment he went to God. His death was beautiful and holy - it has deepened my faith and love for God.
In addition to his duties as a hospital chaplain - in which role he brought several souls back to God at the end of their lives - Fr. Mike was a strong pro-lifer. He had a great deal of respect for SPUC in general.

As far as I know, he was the only priest in the Liverpool Archdiocese who still prayed outside the BPAS centre on Merseyside. He also turned up to wave off Anne Fearon and the SPUC sponsored walk this time last year. I have a photo in my album of Mike as a seminarian holding a banner on the SPUC pro-life chain of witness in Great Crosby in 2003. Mike promoted the teachings of the Church on chastity and life issues to young engaged couples and defended Humanae Vitae to other priests when the occasion arose.

From a merely human perspective this is a grave loss to the Church and the pro-life movement. However, I know Michael always wanted to 'get home to God' (as he used to put it). Mike spent a lot of time in intercession before the Blessed Sacrament and I know that he can do a lot more for us than he ever could before!
A rare man of virtue - outstanding among our generation. May God rest his soul.
I was also deeply moved when I heard that the death of Fr Mike prompted another young priest to stand on the front line of the pro-life battle this weekend. Upon hearing of the death of his friend Fr Leon Pereira O.P. decided that he would follow Fr Mike's example and join in with the 40 Days for Life vigil in London. He went there on Saturday morning and met my son Paul who had organised for a group of young Catholics to go to the vigil together.

Fr Leon leads the young pro-lifers in prayer
Fr Leon also kindly agreed to write a tribute to Fr Mike and has given me permission to publish it.
I first met Fr Mike before either of us were ordained. He was a seminarian at Ushaw at the time, and I was training for the priesthood at Blackfriars, Oxford. His sister attended Mass at Blackfriars (and still does) and he would come to visit her. I remember how proud she was of her little brother, and with good reason.
Fr Mike was terribly easy-going, and I think it had a lot to do with his prayerfulness and deep devotion. At the hospital where he was chaplain, he seemed to know everyone by name, and quickly involved himself in bioethical and pro-life matters arising there.
He was a quiet man, genuinely humble, and very charitable. He was the kind of person who made you wish you were more like him, without ever reproaching you.
When I last spoke to him, at Fr Lawrence Lew's ordination in Oxford about 3 weeks ago, Michael was looking forward to his new assignation, to another hospital. What struck me was how clearly the virtue of hope shone through him, not optimism or wishful thinking but Christian hope.
He also had fortitude in abundance. It was his example which inspired me. He had a great spirit of fun, and seamlessly combined it with a deep devotion to Christ, Our Lady and the saints. The latter fed the former.
The news of his sudden coma and death shocked many people. I found myself thinking of some of the things Mike did, like leading the Rosary outside abortion mills. And it was his death, as well the seminarians I teach at Oscott talking about '40 days for life' which made me decide finally to do something about this myself.
And that's how I found myself in Bedford Square two days after Fr Mike's death (he died on the feast of his patron, St Michael the Archangel), leading the Rosary as he used to.
I generally avoid talking about the dead as though they're already in heaven, preferring to pray for the repose of their souls rather than "celebrate their lives". In Fr Michael's case, I certainly pray for him and for his family, and offered Mass for him, but I also find myself praying to him.
He was a good man and a good priest.
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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 3 October

Xiu Fang Zhang (right)
Top stories:

Wakefield public meeting to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education
A public meeting will be held tomorrow (4 October) evening in Wakefield to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools. Antonia Tully, coordinator of Safe at School, SPUC's nationwide campaign for parents concerned about explicit sex education, has been invited to Wakefield to explain how graphic sex education is priming young children for teenage sex. The meeting has been organised in response to the concerns of local families. [SPUC, 30 September] http://goo.gl/N04xY

Chinese mother-of-four wins right to appeal UK deportation order
A Chinese mother of four children has won the right to appeal against a decision to deport her from the UK back to Communist China. Xiu Fang Zhang (pictured), 34, came to Britain in 2003. She fears that her children will be taken away from her by the Communist authorities if she is deported to China. [Mail, 3 October] http://goo.gl/rKO2F

UK writer killed himself with euthanasia kit
A British man killed himself with a euthanasia kit bought on the internet, a coroner's inquest has found. Jack Semmens, 73, ordered the kit from the United States. Mr Semmens left notes saying: "£10,000 to Dignitas? I don’t think so", "So many people live far too long" and "Tired of life". [Sunday Sun, 2 October] http://goo.gl/SpcT4

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
General
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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Vatican newspaper highlights the destruction of the imperfect

Early last month L'Osservatore Romano ran an editorial analysis of the now routine practice of eugenic abortions entitled 'Destruction of the imperfect'.

After more than 30 years working in the pro-life movement I continue to be horrified by the seemingly endless destruction of human life, as highlighted by Carlo Bellieni (pictured) in the aforementioned article:
"The facts are important. The registry of congenital malformations of Emilia Romagna – among the few available Italian sources – reveals that the rate of abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome is above 60% above the total (and more than 70% in Italian women); more than 50% of girls with Turner Syndrome (resulting in shortness and low fertility) are aborted. The first case involves delayed intellectual development and the second delays physical development: reason enough to destroy them?
Eurocat, a European register, shows that in cases of orofacial clefts – an opening of the lip or palate, a mild and operable condition – the abortion rate is more than 10%. In France, 96% of fetuses with Down Syndrome are aborted and recently a Parisian Deputy in Parliament declared: “The real question I ask myself is why is there still 4%?”. In 1996 the magazine “Archives de Pédiatrie” launched an j’accuse against prenatal elimination of fetuses on the base of future shortness, this characteristic also dramatically decreased from the social panorama and certainly not because a cure was found."
The Parisian politician quoted above is not alone in seemingly disdaining children with disabilities. Last week at the meeting of a pro-abortion coalition group in London, Marge Berer, editor of the pro-abortion journal Reproductive Health Matters, described British abortion law as among the best in the world, in part because it allows for abortion on the grounds of foetal abnormalities. In fact on this ground women in Britain can access abortions up to birth. Marge Berer later bemoaned that the abortion industry was finding it difficult to find abortionists in Spain who are prepared to carry out abortions after 24 weeks due to the ongoing trial of a late-term abortionist.

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human a group within SPUC, has sent me her response to the L'Osservatore Romano article. Alison says:
"This article visits the now familiar story of the attempts by Governments all over the developed world to wipe out disability by 'weeding out' (sic) those who have it. It correctly points out that disabled people themselves (a survey of Italian people with spina bifida is cited) say that their 'quality of life' is high - often higher than those who have no obvious disability. The reason for the 'wiping out' programme can only be economic; the fact that killing us ultimately costs less than treating us.
The article ends by calling for 'solidarity' with sick and disabled people who are being eradicated by abortion. This takes me back to 1985 when I attended a conference in Chicago, travelling alone. I was waiting at the taxi rank, and the driver of first taxi that pulled up refused to take me, saying it would take extra time to load my wheelchair, a task for which he could not charge. He looked at the next-in-line, a young black couple. They spoke together for a second then the man said to the taxi driver: 'You don't take her, you don't take us. Solidarity makes sense.' It does indeed, which is why disabled people should be entitled to be a part of society rather than routinely 'weeded out'.

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